Power outage

08.14.03

The power outage that has shut down New York, Toronto, Ottawa, Detroit, Cleveland, and virtually everywhere in between somehow managed to escape us in Quebec, for once. Maybe the gods of power figured we paid our dues with Ice Storm 98?

Like a lot of people I’m sure, my initial reaction was to ask whether it was terrorism. But now it seems pretty clear that it wasn’t. CTV News is reporting that the cause was a fire at a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania, although they still seem to be trying to sort that out.

The impact is absolutely staggering. To me, it says a lot about how dependant we are on electricity. Literally nothing works without it – the lights are the least of the problem. Transportation, business, the stock market, ventilation, even drinking water . . . it’s like mankind existed happily for thousands of years without electricity, but as soon as it was discovered, we moved ahead in a lit-up world so quickly that we can’t survive without it anymore. I remember having these conversations during the Ice Storm, and hearing the panic again in 1999 as we approached the millennium with trepidation that everything would simply shut down. That didn’t happen, of course, but the fear that it would just underscores this point.

I hope everyone in the affected areas makes it home safely and gets their power back soon.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jonny 08.15.03 at 6:26 AM

That CTV story doesn’t seem that credible. The grid probably was not coping with everyone’s air cond. cranked up.

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2 John Anderson RI USA 08.15.03 at 1:00 PM

The grid. It was supposed be able to handle this sort of thing in ’68, and then was supposed to have been fixed to handle it now.

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3 Advanced Calculus 08.20.03 at 6:10 PM

Look, Quebec opted out for very good reasons. Can you imagine the francophones at Hydro Québec trying to communicate with the rest of North America in the event of a blackout?

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